If you’ve got Google analytics set up on your website or blog, by now you know how important it is when you want to grow your business but have you set it up correctly? The common mistake of most people who sign up to use Google Analytics is that they set up only only profile when you’re supposed to set up three. Wait, what? Yes! I also didn’t know that.
As someone who takes my analytics seriously so I can track what’s working and what’s not working for my website and also track popular content and where you are reading this from, I went to investigating to learn more about Google Analytics and realised that I’ve set up my analytics wrong. I’ve since fixed that and today I’m going to show you why you need three profiles and how to set them up. After the jump:
When you only have one Analytics profile set up, every change (like filters), data and testing go affect a single source of data. When this happens you have no idea if the changes you make are really working because Google does not store raw (unchanged) data so you basically have nothing to compare it to. Here’s what happens to your data that is set up on Google Analytics:
- Your Google Analytics Tracking Code (on your website) sends your site visitor data to Google Analytics’ Servers.
- Google Analytics’ servers compile the data on your site.
- Every 3 hours or so, Google Analytics processes your data using all the settings you have applied. Filters are applied, conversions counted, and site search is processed.
- Each day, Google Analytics dumps the data from the previous day (yikes!).
- Once all the data is processed, it’s stored in a database where you can access it through your Google Analytics account.
With this process the data you have access to is not raw data, it’s data that’s been processed using settings you’ve applied to your profile. And since you only have one profile set up, once the data has been processed, there’s no going back.
This is why a new goal cannot be applied to historical traffic. Google Analytics processes goals only one day at a time.
In other words, the settings we apply to our Google Analytics profiles will change the data permanently for each day that they’re applied. You know what’s really scary? If you have a typo in an exclude filter (like the kind you use to exclude spam), you could irreversibly corrupt a portion of your data.
This is why it’s always a good idea to create several profiles when using Google Analytics. Below I explain more about the profiles and what they are typically used for:
In other words, your main profile. When you look through your reports to check whether some of your campaigns or new changes have been successful, you will use this one. It’s your default profile on all your accounts and the most important. For me it’s where my filters are applied, where site search is enabled and where my goals are set up.
Because I use my master profile to do all my analysis, it’s important to ascertain that any new settings I want to apply aren’t going to screw up my data and lead me to make the wrong decisions when it comes to my business.
Once you have your Master Profile set up with whatever settings you prefer, just leave it alone; use it instead to study your reports. If you’re going to apply new settings or tweak existing ones, run them on your Test Profile first.
Raw Data Profile
This profile just houses your raw, untouched data. There’s no site search, no custom reports, no filters, nothing applied. Basically the purpose of this profile is to provide a back-up in case all your other profiles become corrupted. If you lose all your other data, you’ll still be able to pull reports from this profile. The data won’t be exactly what you want but trust me, you’ll be happy it’s there when you need it.
To set it up, simply set up a new profile and name it Raw Data. When you’re done setting it up, just leave it be and don’t touch it. I wish I knew about this the very first time I signed up for a Google Analytics account because the sooner you set it up, the more data you’ll have backed up.
Just as the name says, this profile will be where you’ll test all your settings to avoid any accidental data corruptions and to see whether they work or not. Before you apply goals, filters or make changes to your other other profiles, you test them on this profile first. Then you can study the data over a few days and see how your reports are affected. And when you’re confident things are working as they should, you can apply the same settings to the profile they were meant for, e.g your Master Profile.
I haven’t set up a custom profile for my Google Analytics yet but they are really good for creating profile views of reports you are interested in that you can have faster access to. Otherwise you can just do it like I do and view reports on your Master Profile. Here are some common custom profiles that other people use:
The profiles limit people in your team to only have access to certain pieces of your Google Analytics data. Here you just filter out everything and anything you don’t want them to see.
- Source-Based Profiles
The profiles include traffic from a single source. This will allow you to easily study how that traffic behaves. This is especially useful if you’re spending a lot of time and energy on a single source for traffic (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) and want to evaluate the success of those efforts.
- Location-Based Profiles
I hope this was informative and helpful to you so you better understand Google Analytics and use it even more to your benefit to reach your business goals.
SETTING UP THE PROFILES:
Log in into your Google Analytics account and on the homepage, select your website's main view (usually named All Website Data with an earth icon preceding it), as in the picture above.
On your Admin page (which can be found by clicking on the 'admin' link in the top navigation of Google Analytics) on the 'View' panel, click on the 'All Web Site Data' drop down menu on the right side of the page and select 'create new view'.
Name the view to whatever profile you want to create, change the reporting time zone as you prefer and select 'create view'. When you're done saving one view just repeat the process for all the other views.
And that's all, folks! I’d love to hear from you, do you use custom profiles on your Google Analytics? Which profiles do you mostly study?